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ATRIA BOOKS ODYSSEY Translation Comparisons Editor: Leslie Meredith .
they devoured the cattle of the Sun and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return. once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.1-10) Fagles Sing to me of the man. . Muse. they killed and feasted on the cattle of Lord Helios. heartsick on the open sea. harried for years on end. and weathered many bitter nights and days in his deep heart at sea. daughter of Zeus. He saw the townlands and learned the minds of many distant men. Muse. the blind fools. the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course. the Sun. daughter of Zeus. to bring his shipmates home. He passed through the cities of many people and learned how they lived and thought. so the sun god blotted them out and they never went home. many pains he suffered. Muse. But he could not save them from disaster.The Invocation (1. hard as he strove— the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all. and tell the story again. start from where you will—sing for our time too. the wanderer. Of these adventures. begin wherever you wish to. while he fought only to save his life. of the man of many resources who was driven astray and forced to wander the earth after he plundered Troy. and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending. Mitchell Sing to me. But despite his efforts he could not rescue them. Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds. daughter of Zeus. Fitzgerald Sing in me. for us. Goddess. trying to save his own life and bring his companions safely back to their land. and he suffered many great hardships on the high seas. Muse. for their own recklessness destroyed them all children and fools. tell us in our time. fools that they were—their own recklessness brought disaster upon them all. fighting to save his life and bringing his comrades home. and he who moves all day through heaven took from their eyes the dawn of their return. they killed and devoured Hypérion‘s sacred oxen. lift the great song again. Muse. But not by will nor valor could he save them. Launch out on his story. after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.
. in face or figure. I know that. whom you think of day in and day out. after these years with me. are you really going to leave me now and return to your own dear country? Well.‖ And Odysseus. (cont‘d) . Add this to the total— bring the trial on!‖ Even as he spoke the sun set and the darkness swept the earth. however you long for that wife of yours. royal son of Laertes. man of exploits. and they made love with great pleasure. Yet even so.200-227) Mitchell ―Noble son of Laértes. down deep. Fagles ―So then. the great tactician. in build? in beauty?‖ ―Ah. before you go— all the adversity you face at sea— you would stay here. the one you pine for all your days. for mortal woman to rival immortal goddess? How. Odysseus. is it. you'd stay right her. preside in our house with me and be immortal. Before now I have suffered many. . She is mortal after all and you. how well I know. your beauty.‖ As they were speaking. labored long and hard by now in the waves and wars. you never age or die… Nevertheless I long—I pine. my heart knows how to endure great hardships. I will endure it. with a spirit tempered to endure. And now. I wish you the best. surely. and if I must suffer another hardship. versatile Odysseus. Much have I suffered. still eager to leave at once and hurry back to your own home. I can‘t help longing for home. And they moved further into the cave. She falls far short of you. what pains are fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore. your beloved native land? Good luck to you. and guard this house. answered her. don‘t be angry. Much as you long to see your wife. and then they slept in each other‘s arms. Look at my wise Penelope. And if some god does wreck me during the voyage. and yet I just might claim to be nothing less than she. stature. I wish you well. And if a god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea. ―Goddess. worldly Odysseus answered. neither in face nor figure. I know it as well as you do— that Penelope isn‘t as tall as you or as lovely. while you are immortal and will never grow old. subtle Odysseus. all my days— to travel home and see the dawn of my return.Calypso’s Last Night with Odysseus (5. even so. great goddess. Fitzgerald ―Son of Laërtês. long in each other‘s arms they lost themselves in love. Hardly right. she is only a woman. Farewell! But if you only knew. I can bear that too. and be immortal—though you wanted her forever. and indeed it would be unimaginable for a mere woman to come even close to a goddess in beauty. you would stay with me here and let me make you immortal. so be it. ―don‘t be angry with me. If you could see it all. you still desire your old home? Even so. the sun set and darkness came on. But I am not any less attractive than she is. All that you say is true. withdrawing into the cavern‘s deep recesses. And yes. please. Yet if you had any idea of all the hardships you will have to endure before you can ever reach home. both on the sea and in war.
and they retired. to the inner cave to revel and rest softly.‖ Now as he spoke the sun set. there is no cause for anger. in battle! Let the trial come. What hardship have I not long since endured at sea. side by side. this pair. my tough heart can undergo it. while she must die. long for the sight of home. it is true. . each day I long for home. My quiet Penelope—how well I know— would seem a shade before your majesty. If any god has marked me out again for shipwreck.that bride for whom you pine each day. Yet. dusk drew on. Can I be less desirable than she is? Less interesting? Less beautiful? Can mortals compare with goddesses in grace and form?‖ To this the strategist Odysseus answered: ―My lady goddess. death and old age being unknown to you.
‖ On this word she departed. so you can take all your washing down to the river—the linen. or a splash of rain. . and around it always a radiance fills the air.‖ With these words Athena left her and went to Olympus. There Athena went. for it becomes thee more. once the bright-eyed one had urged the princess on. so vaporless.‖ With that the bright-eyed goddess sped away to Olympus. so calm. glossy spreads for your bed. Here. It would be much better for you to ride than to walk. Mitchell ―…But ask your father to bring out the mule cart at dawn and harness the mules. since the washing troughs are such a long way from the city. There the immortals spend their long days in pleasure. Never a tremor of wind. never drenched by rains. but a cloudless sky spreads above it. Athena flew. It‘s so much nicer for you to ride than go on foot. and that is where. which is. and cloaks. after speaking. leaving the princess. the grey-eyed one withdrew. men say. where the gay gods live their days of pleasure. the washing pools are found so far from home. even at dawn. dresses. to have the mule cart and the mules brought round to take thy body-linen. to where the gods have their eternal dwelling— as men say—in the fastness of Olympos. all to carry your sashes. the gods‘ eternal mansion stands unmoved. The washing-pools are just too far from town. where.Athena Speaks to Nausicaa (6. grey-eyed Athena. no errant snowflake comes to stain that heaven. It is never shaken by winds or besieged by rain or chilled by snow. no. the clear air stretches away without a cloud. the world of light. they say. the eternal home of the gods. gowns and mantles. nor do the drifting snows assail it. never rocked by galewinds. Fitzgerald ―…Go beg thy sovereign father.36-46) Fagles ―…So come. the first thing in the morning press your kingly father to harness the mules and wagon for you. Thou shouldst ride. and a great radiance plays across that world where the blithe gods live all their days in bliss. dresses.
taller by a head than nymphs can be. with nymphs of the wild places flanking her. Here they unyoked the mules from the cart and sent them along the stream to graze on the beds of sweet clover. they took their picnic. where the washing troughs were always filled with clear water welling up through them. The girls unhitched the mules. plunged them into the dark pools and stamped them down in the hollows. . So one could tell the princess from the maids. then. And once they‘d bathed and smoothed their skin with oil . head and shoulders above the rest and outshining them all. with plenty of water cool and clear. the princess and her retinue threw their veils to the wind. making a game to see who could finish first. who stands magnificent. Down from the cradle they lifted clothes by the armload. Nausikaa flashing first with her white arms. all blemish rinsed away. and sent them down along the eddying stream to crop sweet grass. one girl racing the next to finish first until they‘d scoured and rinsed off all the grime. tossing the ball and dancing in a circle. making a race of it. they ran and passed a ball to a rhythmic beat. putting off their veils. then lifted the clothes from the cart and carried them down into the water. out from under the wagon yoke. And when they had finished the meal. And after a swim. the top of Täýgetus or of Erimánthus. still unwed. and Leto exults to see her beloved daughter. White-armed Nausicaa led their singing. and Lêto‘s heart delights to see them running. and chased them down the river‘s rippling banks to graze on luscious clover. Fagles Once they reached the banks of the river flowing strong where the pools would never fail. ranging the hills in sport. sitting along the river‘s banks and waiting for all the clothes to dry in the hot noon sun. and. all anointed with golden oil. and each girl began to tread.Nausicaa and her handmaids do the laundry (6. though all of them shine with beauty: just so did the princess stand out among her handmaids. daughters of Zeus whose shield is storm and thunder. they spread them. and they played a ball game. they took armloads of clothing to the dusky water. they took off their head scarves. As when Ártemis races down from a high mountain. with water all year flowing in limpid spillways that no grime withstood.85-109) Mitchell They came at last to the banks of the beautiful stream. to clean all dirt from the clothes. along the beach whose pebbles had been laundered by the sea. ate lunch beside the river while the bright burning sun dried out their linen. though all are lovely. filled with the joy of hunting boars and swift deer. then took a dip themselves. they smoothed their bodies with oil and had their lunch on the bank of the eddying river and waited there for the clothes to dry in the sun. and nymphs of the hills race with her. unmistakable—she outshines them all. while Nausicäa led them in song. Erymanthos— chasing the mountain goats or ghosting deer. Then sliding out the cart‘s tail board. the goddess shows more stately. bubbling up and rushing through to scour the darkest stains—they loosed the mules. So Artemis goes flying after her arrows flown down some tremendous valley-side— Taÿgetos. Now fed to their hearts‘ content. and trod them in the pits. and Leto‘s heart exults as head and shoulders over the rest her daughter rises. So Nausicaa shone among her maids. and the nymphs of the countryside join in the chase. for. a virgin. And when they had washed off the dirt and the clothes were spotless. dancing beat… as lithe as Artemis with her arrows striding down from a high peak—Taygetus‘ towering ridge or Erymanthus— thrilled to race with the wild boar or bounding deer. Princess and maids delighted in that feast. piece by piece. they spread them neatly along the shore. All being drubbed. struck up a game of ball. all being beautiful. where the sea lapped at the land and washed all the pebbles clean. then they spread them out in a line along the beach where the surf had washed a pebbly scree ashore. Fitzgerald By the lower river where the wagon came were washing pools.
the wax quickly softened from the force of the kneading. thrilling song: ‗Come closer. from Hêlios. and once he hears to his heart‘s content sails on. the two Seirênês.‘ Fitzgerald I carved a massive cake of beeswax into bits and rolled them in my hands until they softened— no long task. great glory of the Achaeans. made ready. I signaled the crew with frowns to set me free – they flung themselves at the oars and rowed on harder. then sat back down and struck the gray sea with their oars. and they bound my hands and my feet and tied the ends of the rope to the mast itself. Mitchell ―I took a large wheel of wax and cut off a piece. I signaled the men with my eyebrows I carried wax along the line. oh. worked by my strength and Helios‘ burning rays. famous Odysseus – Achaea‘s pride and glory – moor your ship on our coast so you can hear our song! Never has a sailor passed our shores in his black craft until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips. the two Sirens saw that a ship was approaching. They stood me upright against the ship‘s mast. and we know all that comes to pass on the bountiful earth. a wiser man. lord of high noon. scudding close. and took themselves again to rowing. lashed by ropes to the mast – and rowed and churned the whitecaps stroke on stroke.‖ thick on their ears. plumb amidships. Then. then kneaded it in my hands. But they leaned on their oars and rowed on. As all the world allows— Moor and be merry. Odysseus. back to the mast. and all those who stop are thrilled with delight and go away wiser men. lashed to the mast. Soon. We know all the pains that the Greeks and Trojans once endured on the spreading plain of Troy when the gods willed it so— all that comes to pass on the fertile earth. the sun at high noon. stop here and listen. and they sang: This way. Akhaia’s glory.Odysseus Encounters the Sirens (12.173-94) Fagles ―Now with a sharp sword I sliced an ample wheel of beeswax down into pieces. They tied me up. we know it all!‘ So they sent their ravishing voices out across the air and the heart inside me throbbed to listen longer. Going forward and my heart longed to hear it. as we came smartly within hailing distance. We were just offshore as far as a man‘s shout can carry. draw up your ship with us now. for a burning heat came down ―This was the song they sang with their beautiful voices. and at once they began to sing their enchanting music: ‗Come. They bound me hand and foot in the tight ship – erect at the mast-block. kneaded them in my two strong hands and the wax soon grew soft. and one after another I sealed the ears of my comrades. when the Sirens sensed at once a ship was racing past and burst into their high. (continuation on next page) . No sailor has ever rowed past this shore without hearing the honey-sweet voice from our lips. when the will of the gods ordained it. oh turn your bows. and I stopped the ears of my comrades one by one. We know all the sorrow that Argives and Trojans endured on the wide plain of Troy. noting our fast ship off their point. and laid it to untie me at once. ―When we had come close enough to the land for a shout to be heard.
Dark days the bright gods willed. Who lies a-pining? Sea rovers here take joy Voyaging onward. The lovely voices in ardor appealing over the water made me crave to listen. No life on earth can be Hid from our dreaming.Sweet coupled airs we sing. Pleased by each purling note Like honey twining From her throat and my throat. No lonely seafarer Holds clear of entering Our green mirror. jerking my brows. Charmed out of time we see. Wounds you bore there. but they bent steady to the oars. Argos’ old soldiery On Troy beach teeming. All feats on that great field In the long warfare. As from our song of Troy Greybeard and rower-boy Goeth more learnèd. . and I tried to say ‗Untie me!‘ to the crew.
pulled up toward the cliffs. and the bronze hook sinks into the water. so these were borne aloft in spasms toward the cliff. screaming and stretching their hands out toward me in their hideous final agony. whipping his long rod to drop the sinker and the bait far out. in her den.245-259) Fagles Now Scylla snatched six men from our hollow ship. searching out the pathways of the sea. over my head. look— wailing down at me. dangling high overhead. . sheathed in an ox-horn tube. calling my name for the last time. reaching still for me— and deathly pity ran me through at that sight—far the worst I ever suffered questing the passes of the strange sea. onto the shore: just so were my comrades. gasping out their lives…so now they writhed. whips his long rod—hook sheathed in an oxhorn lure— and whisks up little fish he flips on the beach-break. writhing. will hook a fish and rip it from the surface to dangle wriggling through the air. Fitzgerald Then Skylla made her strike. Voices came down to me in anguish. and they shouted to me and called out my name for the last time. searching for my crew I could see their hands and feet already hoisted. and he catches a fish and reels it in quickly and flings it. writhing. and glancing backward over the decks. strongest hands I had. the toughest. shrieking out my name for one last time! Just as an angler poised on a jutting rock flings his treacherous bait in the offshore swell. I happened to glance aft at ship and oarsmen and caught sight of their arms and legs. flinging their arms toward me. comrades riven in agony. writhing. high. whisking six of my best men from the ship.Scylla (12. gasping as Scylla swung them up her cliff and there at her cavern‘s mouth she bolted them down raw— screaming out. this wrenched my heart the most. flailing. I looked up and saw their arms and legs thrashing above me. suffering. in the dire grapple. That was the most sickening thing I ever saw on my travels. She ate them as they shrieked there. and at the cave entrance she ate them. And as a fisherman stands on a jutting rock and casts the bait with his rod. A man surfcasting on a point of rock for bass or mackerel. higher. lost in that mortal struggle… Of all the pitiful things I‘ve had to witness. strong young men. Mitchell At that very moment Scylla rushed out and snatched six of my comrades—beautiful.
Slumber. then bent forward at the oars and caught the sea as one man. This night at last he slept serene. her bow wave riding after. soft and deep like the still sleep of death. swiftest bird. They untied their hawser. But now he was sleeping peacefully. surging and surging over it! So ran that craft and showed her heels to the swell. who in the past had suffered many great hardships as he passed through the wars of men and the cruel sea. breaking through ranks in war and waves on the bitter sea. . sick at heart. all quiet as crewmen sat to the oarlocks. As when a team of four stallions leap forward together. bearing a man equipped with the gods‘ own wisdom.Odysseus Sails Home (13. the image of death. weighed on his eyes as the ship hove seaward. lay still. not even a darting hawk. the sweetest. each in line. the memory of his struggles laid to rest. cleaving his way through wars of men and pounding waves at sea but now he slept in peace. soundest oblivion. he that in twenty years had borne such blows in his deep heart. no. still as the sleep of death itself… And the ship like a four-horse team careering down the plain. And as soon as they leaned back and churned up the sea with their oar blades. stroking. Odysseus climbed aboard himself and down he lay. while oarsmen took their places at the rowlocks all in order. never flagging. the fastest of winged creatures. and the crew took their seats along the ship by the oarlocks and untied the mooring cable from the pierced stone. with her great passenger—godlike in counsel. and the dark blue waves surged thunderously in her wake as she steadily hurried along. could stay abreast of her in that most arrowy flight through open water.76-92) Mitchell Then he himself went aboard and lay down in silence. passing it through a drilled stone ring. cutting the swells at top speed. Hour by hour she held her pace. lay down. leaping with hoofs high to run the course in no time— so the stern hove high and plunged with the seething rollers crashing dark in her wake as on she surged unwavering. free from all troubles. not even a falcon wheeling downwind. How a four horse team whipped into a run on a straightaway consumes the road. could keep her pace as on she ran. his long-tried mind at rest. Fitzgerald Now he himself embarked. Not even a falcon. bearing a man whose wisdom was like the gods‘ wisdom. They slipped the cable free of the drilled stone post and soon as they swung back and the blades tossed up the spray an irresistible sleep fell deeply on his eyes. and her wake on the purple night-sea foaming. could have kept up. Fagles And last. the quickest thing on wings. a profound sleep fell on his eyelids. sweet and unbroken. feeling the lash of the whip and lifting their hoofs high to finish the race in an instant: just so did the stern of the ship leap high and plunge. all breaking as one with the whiplash cracking smartly. so lightly did she run on and cut through the waves. one who had suffered twenty years of torment.
You! You chameleon! Bottomless bag of tricks! Here in your own country would you not give your stratagems a rest or stop spellbinding for an instant? You play a part as if it were your own tough skin. and tricky beyond all bounds would a man have to be who hoped to outwit you. broke into a smile and stroked him with her hand. She had changed her form. ingenious. Even a god couldn‘t do it.Athena praises Odysseus’s cunning (13. and now she appeared a woman. on native soil. would you give up those wily tales that warm the cockles of your heart! Come. gray eyes gleaming. But no more of this for now…‖ . ―Cunning. though…‖ Mitchell Athena smiled and patted his hand. enough of this for now…‖ Fitzgerald At this the grey-eyed goddess Athena smiled. and she now appeared as a woman. beautiful. Her words went flying straight at Odysseus: ―Any man—any god who met you—would have to be some champion lying cheat to get past you for all-round craft and guile! You terrible man. never tired of twists and tricks— so.287-296) Fagles Goddess Athena. tall and skilled at weaving lovely things. and gave him a caress. and she said. subtle. tall and beautiful and no doubt skilled at weaving splendid things. Swindler. so she seemed a woman. not even here. No more of this. She answered briskly: ―Whoever gets around you must be sharp and guileful as a snake: even a god might bow to you in ways of dissimulation. king of the liars. foxy. cheat. daredevil. tall and beautiful and intelligent. remorseless in your deceptions— even in your own country you are unwilling to drop the tricks and tales that you love from the bottom of your treacherous heart. her looks being changed now.
begging for scraps that are only fit to be thrown away. where are you taking your new pig. Well. not for him. Hand him over to me—I‘ll teach him to work on a farm. footstools will fly around his head—good shots from strong hands. why to drink will put some muscle on his hams! Oh no. for I am sure this is going to happen: If he goes to the palace. a stall scraper. swineherd? And what a revolting. he‘s got no itch to stick to good hard work. rubbing his back. where a noble guest would rate a cauldron or a sword? Hand him over to me. beggars? Where in the world are you taking this filthy pig of yours. where do you find your filthy swine. I can tell you this for sure: in King Odysseus‘ hall. Like attracts like. Back and side. and in return I would sometimes give him a cup of whey to bulk out those scrawny thighs. that stinking beggar there. a fodder carrier! Whey for drink will put good muscle on his shank! No chance: he learned his dodges long ago— no honest sweat. to keep his hoggish belly full. hairless wonder he is! A fellow who will get on all fours to lick the plates at our table. Swineherd. muck out my stalls.217-232) Fagles ―Look!‖—he sneered—―one scum nosing another scum along. there will be more than one footstool hurled at him. pitch feed to the young goats. his ribs will catch it Mitchell ―Look what we have here: garbage walking with garbage. salvos of footstools flung at his head by all the lords will crack his ribs as he runs the line of fire through the house!‖ Fitzgerald ―Here comes one scurvy type leading another! God pairs them off together. I‘ll make a farm hand of him. if he goes there. no hero‘s swords and cauldrons. savaging after scraps. He‘d rather tramp the country begging. Well. But why don‘t you hand him to me? I would use him to clean my pens and sweep out the goat shit and haul fodder. eh. he‘d rather go scrounging round the countryside.Melanthius the goatherd insults Odysseus (17. every time. mark my words. and his ribs will be sore for months. he would much rather go groveling through the town and whining for food to fill his bottomless pit of a belly.‖ on the way out!‖ . begging for crusts to stuff his greedy gut! Let me tell you—so help me it‘s the truth— if he sets foot in King Odysseus‘ royal palace. licker of pots? How many doorposts has he rubbed his back on whining for garbage. I know the type: he will wallow in any mud and scarf up anything. this sickening beggar who licks pots at feasts? Hanging round the doorposts. dirt finds dirt by the will of god—it never fails! Wretched pig-boy. which any decent guest would be given. He could never imagine receiving a sword or a cauldron. But obviously he is lazy and wouldn‘t think of doing a good day‘s work. he‘s learned his lazy ways too well.
404-11) Fagles Odysseus. And with his right hand he plucked the string as a test. . like a musician. so the taut gut vibrating hummed and sang a swallow‘s note.Odysseus Strings the Bow (21. Odysseus examined the bow thoroughly. when with quiet hand upon his instrument he draws between his thumb and forefinger a sweet new string upon a peg: so effortlessly Odysseus in one motion strung the bow. like an expert singer skilled at lyre and song— who strains a string to a new peg with ease. then. and it sang out under his touch with a sound as beautiful as the voice of a swallow. mastermind in action. Mitchell As they were speaking. tying the twisted sheep-gut at both its ends: so effortlessly did Odysseus string the great bow. like a harper. Then slid his right hand down the cord and plucked it. once he'd handled the great bow and scanned every inch. satisfied by the great bow‘s look and heft. making the pliant sheep-gut fast at either end— so with his virtuoso ease Odysseus strung his mighty bow. Fitzgerald But the man skilled in all ways of contending. and just as a poet well-skilled in playing the lyre will easily stretch a new string around a peg. Quickly his right hand plucked the string to test its pitch and under his touch it sang out clear and sharp as a swallow's cry.
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